[Book review by Tina Koyama] “It is a medium that encourages a confident approach. . . . It is a medium that is a constant reminder of our failings, and yet it arms us to find our way around them.”
London-based urban sketcher and journalist James Hobbs has written a book devoted to that medium – Pen and Ink. With the subtitle Contemporary Artists, Timeless Techniques, the book is a wide-ranging collection of works from artists around the globe. Whether using a commonplace ballpoint, exotic fountain pen or no pen at all but, in fact, a twig, these artists have mastered their tools with the confident approach Hobbs refers to. Ink, indelible and usually permanent, has a reputation for being unforgiving, but that unchangeable mark left on the page also gives full expression to the unique hand making it. Pen and Ink is a celebration of that individuality.
Divided into sections such as Line, Tone, Color, and Texture and Pattern, the book examines various approaches to using the medium. (Shown at top of post is Marina Grechanik's example using line from a fountain pen.) Each drawing is shown on one page while the facing page is Hobbs’ description and analysis of the artist’s technique or approach. Often the artist relates inspiration for the drawing or insights about methods. In the final Fundamentals section, the author introduces various types of pens and related materials.
|Example of contrasting patterns by Cynthia Barlow Marrs|
While a few works were made from imagination or based on photographs, the vast majority of the drawings were made through direct observation, and readers will recognize many names from the Urban Sketchers community. I was awed by each drawing and inspired by the collection as an annotated gallery of some of the best contemporary artists working in pen and ink today.
|Example of texture and pattern by Ch'ng Kiah Kiean|
Pen and Ink has been translated into German and French and is forthcoming in other languages. It can be purchased on Amazon.com (US) and Amazon UK.
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